I had some exciting news today. Our local free magazine – Nene Valley Living – has agreed to publish an ‘interview with author Amanda Martin’ that I wrote for them, focusing on the daily blog and the free Two-Hundred Steps Home ebook. The editor apologised that they wouldn’t be able to pay me for the feature (I had no expectation of payment, so was highly amused) as they don’t have much editorial budget. When I had stopped laughing I emailed back and said That’s okay, it’s the promotion that’s key. Hopefully I’ll be in the April or May edition, so watch this space. My first successful piece of marketing – hurrah!
I have decided that I need to get a professional photograph of me taken however, as the editor would like a headshot and the best I have is one I cropped from me heavily pregnant with my second child. I rarely wear make up these days and my hair is only straight on the annual event of a hair cut. Even though the feature is about ‘WriterMummy’ it would be nice to look vaguely professional!
It’s snowing here again. Not the 3 feet of snow my sister has had in Boston, more like a third of an inch, but it it freezing and I confess to being a bit tired of winter now. It’s hard to take the kids out when it’s cold as the whole time is spent putting hats and gloves back on and rubbing life back into frozen fingers. Friends came over and we turned the house into an indoor park with play tent, football goal and building blocks. Their favourite toy? Some old laundry baskets I have which turned them into wriggly worms and scary monsters. Bless.
Think Claire might get out in some more clement weather today just because I feel the need for it. Never mind that it’s probably never sunny in the Lake District in March, I think some poetic licence is called for.
Update. I decided to set Claire a little challenge instead, courtesy of a Youtube video I came across while researching Windermere. She’ll have to go hiking in the sun tomorrow.
“Your turn Claire.”
The bridge stretched ahead of her like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. She glanced down, half expecting to see a rushing torrent fifty feet below. Instead there was just a car park at a distance of less than fifteen feet. She searched for her Skoda in the distance then looked back down at the ground. It was a mistake. The bile rose in her throat before sinking down to churn up her stomach. She dragged her eyes back to the structure in front of her.
Dammit I knew this was a stupid idea. The bridge hadn’t appeared that wide when she’d driven underneath it. Now it might as well span the Niagara Falls. Tentatively Claire put one foot on the first of the planks and the whole structure shook as if a force seven earthquake had just hit Windermere. Claire quickly pulled her leg back and retreated inside the tower. She could feel several pairs of eyes on her, willing her on. Behind her a lad sniggered.
Claire inhaled, put one foot on the plank, then another. Willing herself on she gripped the ropes until they tore at her hands and forced herself to cross the bridge. Her heart swooped like a released bird as she reached the tree trunk and wrapped her arms around it.
I did it. I crossed it. She pirouetted round the tree-trunk, surveying the rest of the course.
The next challenge was another bridge. Okay, I can do that now. Except this one didn’t have any ropes to hold onto. You have to be kidding. What? I’m meant to walk across it just balancing? I’m not a circus freak. Claire wished she could have watched the person in front do it, but they were already out of sight further down the course. Claire wrapped her hands around her rope harness and pulled, making sure it would hold. Then she closed her eyes and put her foot on the structure. It tipped sideways, throwing her stomach to the ground.
“Bollocks.” The word slipped out and Claire looked round to make sure the person coming up behind her hadn’t heard. She saw a petit figure bouncing across the bridge and was faced with the prospect of sharing a small platform with a bouncy child or running across a few pieces of wood stretched between two ropes. As the sound of giggling came nearer Claire swallowed, urging her legs to move. It was no good. Her feet were glued to the platform. No matter how many curses she yelled inside the cavern of her mind her feet refused to move.
Eventually a voice permeated the greyness.
Claire turned to locate the source and her gaze met a pair of clear blue eyes peering up at her from beneath a giant helmet. It looked like a cheeky beetle. The child was younger than Sky. Who lets a five-year-old up here? Claire grimaced at the girl, not trusting herself to speak.
“It’s your turn lady. It’s okay. I did this twice already, it’s easy peasy. Besides, you can’t fall.” She leaned sideways until the rope at her waist went tight then took her feet off the platform.
“Don’t do that!” Claire’s voice was probably only audible to dogs. The girl laughed and swung herself back onto the platform. She grinned at Claire, then raised an eyebrow as if to say Go on!
Claire looked at the grinning eyes and felt her cheeks redden. I will not be shown up by a child. She turned, inhaled, and ran. Her body slammed into the next tree trunk and she felt the bark graze her cheek. As her heart rate slowed to a mere gallop Claire turned to watch the child hoping gracefully across the rope structure. It made her feel ancient.
She conquered a free step to a small plank, then contemplated a snarl of ropes that linked her tree to the next.
I’m not a spider or a rat. How does this work?
Reaching out, Claire took hold of the rope, hoping she didn’t get tangled or, worse still, break a nail. I’m glad Josh isn’t here. I can just imagine the grief he would be giving me right now. That’s if he wasn’t standing underneath passing comment on my derriere.
The next crossing looked like a stretched-out clothes dryer, the kind her gran used to put ginormous grey knickers on in the utility room. It felt as stable as a deckchair when she put her weight on it.
Slowly, carefully, Claire crept round the course, all the while trying to stay ahead of the girl, as much to avoid the patronising encouragement as the excessive bouncing.
At last she reached the end of the course, only then realising she was on a different tree to the one connected to the Indiana Jones bridge.
How do I get down?
Claire stood on the platform and looked over at the tower where she started. Then she noticed a small sign next to her. Zip wire? Oh no. How did I miss that?
“Go on lady, just step off. It isn’t scary.” Claire turned to see the beetle girl standing next to her on the platform. “I wish I could do the big zip wire but I’m too little.”
The girl gestured at the top of the tower ahead of them. Two stories above where they had started three people were standing on a deck. Claire watched them step off and slide gracefully away into the distance. That doesn’t look so bad. Oh, come on Claire, this is the only thing between you and a cup of tea. Swallowing down the sick taste in her mouth, Claire set her sight on the tower and stepped off the platform. She dropped before the rope took hold and sweat pricked at her forehead.
And then it was over.
“Well done Claire. So are you up for the triple-zip?” Claire stared at the earnest face in front of her and laughed so hard her ribs hurt.
“Sorry,” she said eventually, wiping water from her eyes. “Maybe one day. If you’d told me last week I’d be swinging around fifteen feet off the ground I would have said you were nuts.”
A whisper at the back of Claire’s mind said Climb the stairs. You know you want to. Get the ultimate shot for the blog. Make Josh proud. Claire looked at the corner where the steps led to the next floor. She took one step, then two. Then she shrugged out of the harness and headed back to terra firma.